GAME NOTES: The two teams closest to challenging top-ranked Arizona in the Pac-12 Conference get together on Sunday, as the California Golden Bears pay a visit to the UCLA Bruins.
California comes in sporting a 14-5 overall record, which includes a 5-1 mark in Pac-12 action. The Golden Bears had won their first five league bouts before falling in a 77-69 final at USC on Wednesday night. The loss dropped the team to 3-3 in true road games, and following this contest it will return home for its next three.
UCLA is 15-4 on the season, but is a game behind Cal in conference play at 4-2. The Bruins have won three of their last four games, including a 91-74 decision at home against Stanford on Thursday night. The victory improved the club's home mark to 12-1, and after this clash Steve Alford's crew will hit the road for three in a row.
UCLA owns a 133-101 lead in the long-standing series with California, but the Golden Bears have won four of the last five meetings.
The teams will meet again on Feb. 19, in Berkeley, to complete the regular- season series.
Justin Cobbs scored 22 points and dished out six assists, and Jordan Matthews poured in 18 points, but both efforts went to waste as California suffered its first league loss at USC earlier in the week. The Golden Bears, who also got near double-doubles from David Kravish (10 points, nine rebounds) and Richard Solomon (nine points, 13 boards), shot just 39.3 percent from the field, missing 12 of their 17 3-point attempts along the way, while the Trojans converted more than half of their field goal attempts (28-of-54). Cal committed only six turnovers, but went just 16-of-25 at the free-throw line.
Cobbs (15.3 ppg, 6.4 apg) heads a list of four double-digit scorers for the Golden Bears, who are putting up 76.3 ppg in hitting 47 percent of their field goal attempts, which includes a 35.2 percent showing from 3-point range. Defensively, Cal is permitting 67.6 ppg, with foes shooting just 40.9 percent from the floor. The Bears are +4.0 in rebounding margin, but just about dead even in turnovers (+0.6). In addition to Cobb's exploits, Solomon (11.9 ppg, 10.4 rpg), Tyrone Wallace (11.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and Kravish (11.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg) have all produced for coach Mike Montgomery's squad.
Tony Parker came off the bench to score a career-high 22 points to lead UCLA past visiting Stanford a few nights ago, the team also getting double-digit scoring efforts from four others. Jordan Adams hit for 19 points, Norman Powell and Kyle Anderson for 13 apiece, and Zach LaVine for 10, as the Bruins made good on 52.3 percent of their total shots, and 18-of-25 free throws. Defensively, UCLA held the Cardinal to just 38.6 percent field goal efficiency, while goading them into 19 turnovers. The Bruins outscored the visitors off miscues a staggering 22-1, as they were guilty of only six turnovers themselves. Anderson actually logged a double-double as he handed out 10 of the team's 23 assists.
For the season, Adams heads the team with 17.5 ppg, Anderson is next at 15.4 ppg, LaVine 12.4 ppg and Powell checks in with 10.8 ppg. Anderson spearheads the Bruins' rebounding effort with 8.8 caroms per contest, while also serving as the team's primary playmaker with 6.7 apg. Collectively, UCLA is knocking down 50.3 percent of its total shots, 39.7 percent of its 3-point tries, all in the name of a scoring average (84.7 ppg) that ranks second in the conference and is among the highest in the nation. Thanks in large part to Anderson, who is the closest any player is in the country to averaging a triple-double, the Bruins rank first in the Pac-12 in assists (17.84 apg), steals (10.89 spg), turnovers margin (+4.89) and assist-to-turnover margin (1.70).
This should be a relatively close game between two teams that boast an abundance of talent, but have shown the ability to lose focus from time to time. The edge goes to the Bruins, who will ride the wave of support from the Pauley Pavilion faithful to victory as they keep pace in the race for the Pac-12 title.
Game Date and Time